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Applying to the Graduate Program

Admission to the PhD program in Political Science is through online application. Note that the Department of Political Science at Vanderbilt does not have a Master's program for non-Vanderbilt undergraduates.  PhD students can pick up the Master's degree en route to the PhD.  There is no terminal Master's program for non-Vanderbilt undergraduates.

Application to the PhD program in Political Science requires:

  1. an official OR unofficial transcript from each college or university attended;
  2. recent GRE scores, for the verbal, mathematical, and written portions of the exam;
  3. three letters of recommendation from people who are familiar with the applicant's academic record;
  4. a statement of purpose indicating the student's interests and career goals;
  5. a writing sample of 15-25 double-spaced pages (preferably a paper from a course that illustrates the candidate's ability to write and to conduct research);
  6. students from non-English-speaking countries should also submit a recent TOEFL score.  Students who have received degrees from English-speaking institutions are exempt from this requirement.

Applicants should go to the Graduate School website for more information on admission. Click here to access the online application for Political Science. There is no application fee for the PhD program.  

When making admission decisions, the Graduate Committee weighs all of the evidence - grades, recommendations, GRE's and TOEFL scores, writing sample and statement of purpose. Candidates should have an overall undergraduate GPA of at least 3.3, and a GPA of 3.5 in their major field. There is no minimum score for the GRE's, but admitted students typically have average scores above the 70th percentile on the verbal, mathematic, and analytical sections. The typical TOEFL score for admitted foreign students is above 100.  Strong letters of recommendation are essential.  In addition, the statement of purposes should make clear that there is a good fit between the student's interests and the scholarly expertise of our faculty.

The application deadline is January 15 for fall admission of the same year.  There is no spring admission cycle.

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